How to Change Programs to Open Attachments in Email

Updated July 20, 2017

Getting your computer to use the correct program when you open an e-mail attachment is related to the type of file that attachment is, such as a picture or a music file. Once you change the default program for that file type, your computer will use the correct program from then on. You'll use almost the exact same method for this whether you use webmail, like Yahoo!, Gmail or Hotmail, or you use an e-mail client, like Outlook or Thunderbird.

Go to your inbox in your web browser if you use webmail or in your e-mail client on your computer.

Click on the email with the attachment you want to view.

Download the attachment by right-clicking it and selecting the download option. Most browsers and e-mail clients have options like "Save link as," "Save target as" or just "Save as." Save it wherever you want.

Locate the file you just downloaded on your computer and right-click it, then highlight "Open with;" in a moment a list of options will pop out to the side.

Select "Choose program" to open the "Open with" window, which contains a list of programs for you to choose from.

Check the box next to "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file."

Select the program you want to use for opening this kind of file. If you don't see the program, click the arrow next to "Other Programs" to display more.

Click "OK" to change the default setting and open the file you downloaded.

Delete the file you downloaded if you no longer want it.


If you can't find the program you want anywhere in the "Open with" window, you can click "Browse" and navigate to where the program is stored on your hard drive, though this may require an experienced user.


Attachments can contain viruses, so only download attachments that are in e-mails from people or organisations you trust.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
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About the Author

A lover of technology in all forms, Matt Skaggs began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in Windows computers and Android devices. His writing has appeared on many websites providing a plethora of technology information and tutorials. In 2008 Skaggs graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Arts in humanities.